Wenger: We must fight until the end
Arsene Wenger has warned his deflated Arsenal side must "absolutely fight like mad" to make sure their season does not completely collapse and end with failure to secure UEFA Champions League qualification.
The final-minute defeat at Bolton Wanderers last weekend ended a 16-game unbeaten run, but too many draws have left the Gunners playing catch-up and also looking over their shoulders.
Arsenal head into Sunday's clash against Premier League leaders Manchester United having seen their title dreams shattered following a run of just one win in seven games, which has dropped them below Chelsea into third place.
Indeed FA Cup finalists Manchester City - who would be just two points behind if they win their match in hand - are ready to take advantage of any more off days in Arsenal's remaining four games.
A late rally from arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur could also challenge the Gunners' right to continue more than a decade of playing among Europe's elite. Wenger is determined that cannot happen.
"We will be faithful to the attitude we have shown all season and we want to finish in the Champions League, which is not decided yet," he told Arsenal TV Online. "We really have to watch Manchester City, because that [third place] is not done - even to be in the top four is not done.
"We have absolutely to fight like mad. It is not a massive concern, but if Tottenham come back, Manchester City will drop because they play each other or Chelsea will drop. Our focus is to win the games. We want to finish as close as possible to the top, it would be a shame not to do that."
Wenger added: "Also if we win our games, you never know. If we can beat Manchester United, we come back to six points and after they play Chelsea, you never know they can be under pressure again. It is important for us to show we can beat them, and I am convinced we will."
Transfer talk to wait
Arsenal's failure to once again turn a season which promised so much into trophies has left Wenger facing questions over his unwavering faith in youth. The Gunners coach has, though, vowed to work to bring in fresh talent this summer, strengthening in key areas which have proven Arsenal's Achilles heel - most notably at the centre of defence.
However, whether those will again be promising youngsters, such as Blackburn Rovers' England U-21 international Phil Jones or senior men like Bolton defender Gary Cahill, remains to be seen. Wenger insists while he is focused on delivering the required performances over the final four matches, transfer dealings are never far from his thoughts.
"We always have names in mind because we have our scouting reports from all over the world every week," the Arsenal manager said. "It is too early to speak about that because it is important to focus highly on the end of the season."
United's scouting network certainly paid off when they secured a deal for Mexican forward Javier Hernandez. The 22-year-old has not looked back since netting an unorthodox debut goal in the FA Community Shield win over Chelsea at Wembley, and is now on course to break 20 goals for the season.
Hernandez was a target
Wenger maintains the diminutive former Guadalajara frontman was "on our radar" before his £7million switch to Old Trafford, which the Arsenal manager feels has helped free up Wayne Rooney.
"Hernandez has been exceptional, and had a great season," Wenger told reporters. "Hernandez plays more the runner and Rooney more the playmaker, which suits Manchester United."
Arsenal have a poor record against United, winning only once in the past 11 meetings, which have included two in the Champions League semi-finals. Wenger, though, believes Arsenal have closed the gap on Sir Alex Ferguson's experienced men, even if that has not been reflected in their respective points tallies of recent campaigns.
"This game was targeted as being a decider for the championship, it certainly will not be, but we still have to give absolutely everything," the Arsenal manager said. "It is important for us to show some fighting spirit, some fighting attitude and some pride - there is more at stake on Sunday than just the mathematics."